Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spare the Blake, Spoil the Scholar

Undoubtedly there are some people who would consider reading the poetry of William Blake -- especially the "prophetic" poems -- to be a punishing experience. However, the headmaster at West Park School, in Derby, England, has given that idea a somewhat unusual twist: he's come up with a form of detention punishment quite different from anything the Brat Pack had to deal with in The Breakfast Club. Misbehaving students at West Park School are required to transcribe Blake's poem, "Jerusalem" while listening to Mozart's "Requiem" and Verdi's "Aida".

Would such an experience increase a student's appreciation for Romantic poetry and classical music, or increase a hostile attitude towards such things? Hard to say, of course, but evidence indicates the novel -- or poetic -- punishment does have a deterrent effect. Since the headmaster introduced the practice four years ago, the number of students ending up in detention has decreased dramatically.

More here.

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